A high court judge will decide the future of Dee Valley Water.
The board of Dee Valley, which includes Chester city centre, Blacon, Christleton and Upton in its catchment area, has recommended an £84 million takeover offer from Severn Trent. But this has been opposed by workers over concerns about jobs being moved from their North Wales HQ and fears water bills will rise.
The resolution to approve the buy-out was voted on at a Court Meeting at the Ramada Hotel in Wrexham yesterday (January 12) but a row over shares has complicated the result.
In the days prior to the vote, 445 shares were bought up by a mystery buyer and then distributed to individuals believed to be opposed to the takeover.
There are claims the ‘transferred shares’ could 'distort' the outcome with a majority required to approve the bid.
This was yesterday shown to be the case as a final count that did not include the ‘transferred shares’ saw the takeover approved by 363 votes to 32.
But when those shares are included the takeover bid fails to pass with 363 in favour and 466 against.
A judge at the Royal Courts of Justice in London will now rule on January 25 on whether the ‘transferred votes’ will count.
Llyr Gruffydd, Plaid Cymru AM, said: "The future of Dee Valley Water and its staff hangs in the balance after this morning’s EGM.
"Despite the meeting, it's clear that next week's court ruling on whether new shareholders can vote on this crucial matter is going to decide matters.
"These new shareholders are, as far as I'm aware, key to the final decision.
"So the final decision rests with the court.
"I very much hope that the judge's decision will be made on the basis of fairness and equality. New shareholders are just as deserving of a vote as existing shareholders.
"Many workers and their families at Dee Valley Water now have a small stake in the company and they deserve a voice just as much as the large institutional shareholders. It would be a miscarriage of justice to prevent them from having a say."
Dee Valley Chairman Jon Schofield said: “As a board we are determined to ensure that the outcome of the Court meeting properly reflects the views of our shareholders, that the process has been completed in a fair and proper way, and that there will be no uncertainty as to how votes should be recorded.
“Following a number of unusual trades, our legal advisers made the Board aware that the circumstances surrounding the vote were unprecedented and it considered that the only responsible course of action would be to seek a determination from the Court as to how to correctly proceed.
“The Board has taken steps to ensure that the Court hears representations from shareholders in order to make a decision which will provide genuine clarity on the outcome.
“These representations will be made at a court hearing currently scheduled for January 25 and the Board will abide by the outcome, whatever it may be.”
It is understood the company will pay the ‘reasonable’ legal costs of those shareholders wanting representation at the court.